Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Dell Boosts Battery Life in Newest Ultrabook, the XPS 14

Lately there has been so much focus on Windows 8 that it’s easy to forget that PC makers still have a whole summer and back-to-school season to get through with those, you know, Windows 7 computers.

Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook

Lest we forget, manufacturers like Lenovo and Dell have been marketing thinner, lighter laptops with extra features like mobile broadband services and, in Dell’s case, longer battery life.

Dell today introduced two new models to its XPS family: The XPS 14 Ultrabook and the XPS 15, which adds some premium features but doesn’t fall within the Intel-driven specifications of an Ultrabook.

The XPS 14 Ultrabook measures 13.2 inches by 9.2 inches, with a super-bright 14-inch diagonal display, and is just .81-inch thick. It’s made of machined aluminum, while the display is coated with Corning Gorilla Glass. It’s got two USB ports, an HDMI port and a mini DisplayPort with a built-in card reader.

In terms of its guts, the XPS 14 comes with either a third-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, as well as optional Nvidia graphics, four gigabytes of memory and solid-state drive options of up to 512 gigabytes.

And the XPS 14 weighs 4.6 pounds — heavier than even some of the bulkier Ultrabooks out on the market.

But where it’s really meant to stand out is in battery life. AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg reviewed the predecessor to this Ultrabook, the XPS 13, in February of this year, and found that its biggest drawback was “subpar battery life.” In Walt’s test, it fell an hour short of another Ultrabook he tested, and two hours short of the 13-inch MacBook Air. The problem with super-slim laptops is that they often sacrifice substantial battery life for size. With the XPS 14, Dell is clearly looking to bridge that gap, claiming more than 11 hours of battery life, compared to the XPS 13’s claim of nine hours.

On the heels of Lenovo’s announcement that the China-based PC maker is adding mobile broadband service to its computers, Dell is offering something similar, called Dell NetReady. So, when Wi-Fi is in short supply, users can rely on cellular service provided through the laptop (at a cost, through a pay-as-you-go plan).

The XPS 14 Ultrabook goes on sale today, at a starting price of $1,099.

The XPS 15, meanwhile, will start at $1,299, with specs similar to those of the XPS 14 — made of machined aluminum with a Gorilla Glass display, Core i5 or i7 chips and optional Nvidia graphics — but it’s a bigger beast, with a 15.6-inch display, a .91-inch thick body, and a starting weight of 5.8 pounds. It also boasts more memory — and a shorter battery life of eight hours and 11 minutes — than the XPS 14. And, of course, it’s not technically an Ultrabook.

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